Azerbaijan wants to invest in RI: Envoy
Oil-rich Azerbaijan sees resource-rich Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, as an important regional as well as global player. Baku says Jakarta occupies a significant place in its foreign policy. Azerbaijan emerged as the second biggest supplier of crude oil to Indonesia in 2011 after Saudi Arabia. Its economy has grown an average 16.9 percent during the last five years and has over US$30 billion in its State Oil Fund. This month, Azerbaijan, a non-permanent member, is the chairman of the UN Security Council.
In order to know more about the growing relations, The Jakarta Post’s Veeramalla Anjaiah talked to Azerbaijan Ambassador to Indonesia Tamerlan Karayev recently in Jakarta. The following are excerpts of the interview.
Question: What is the present state of relations between Azerbaijan and Indonesia?
Answer: Azerbaijan and Indonesia established diplomatic relations in 1992. So this year we are celebrating 20th anniversary of our relations. Azerbaijan considers Indonesia as a friendly and brotherly country.
The countries’ bilateral political relations are on a perfect level now, we have mutual understanding and support on several issues at the level of both bilateral and multilateral. So, now our main goal is to strengthen and expand our economic relations. Compared to 2007 when the trade turnover between our countries was $101.10 million, in 2011 we achieved the sum of $1.76 billion.
But the trade between Azerbaijan and Indonesia is mostly related to the energy sector; we are working now to find other sectors of economy where we could gain mutual benefits. For expanding and strengthening of our economic relations, the Azerbaijan Embassy has proposed to establish the Joint Government Economic Commission. We are waiting for a response from the Indonesian side.
Given both countries economic strength, the present bilateral trade doesn’t commensurate the real economic potential of both countries. What problems does Azerbaijan typically face when doing business with Indonesia?
Indonesia and Azerbaijan have a big amount of bilateral trade, but Indonesian goods come to Azerbaijan mostly through third countries and we would like to have direct trade between Indonesia and Azerbaijan. We are working on this issue. I think there are no many problems about doing business with Indonesia, I would only mark a few issues: it is very difficult to meet Indonesia’s high-level government officials and we need more information to do business and invest in important projects.
As a new ambassador, what is your main mission in Indonesia?
My main mission is to find ways to strengthen and expand the two countries’ relations in all directions, not only political and economical; we are also interested in cooperating in cultural, educational and other fields.
During the credentials’ presentation ceremony, I informed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that Azerbaijan government is very much interested in reciprocal investment plans between our countries and the President of Azerbaijan authorized me to specify the fields in the Indonesian economy where we could bring in investments from the Azerbaijan State Oil Fund for mutual fruitful benefits. So now me and all my staff are working hard on this issue.
Azerbaijan has a problem with its neighbor Armenia on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. What do you expect from Indonesia as a friendly Muslim-majority country and member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)?
First of all, I would like to express my high appreciation to the Indonesian government for its continuous support of Azerbaijan in the above-mentioned conflict. As you know on Feb. 26, 1992, Armenian aggressors committed genocide against the civilian population in Azerbaijan town of Khojaly, which was recognized by the parliaments of several countries. We are convinced that the issue of recognition of the Khojaly tragedy as genocide could be placed on the agenda of the friendly Indonesian parliament and this massacre will get its legal and political assessment.
How do you see the future of RI-Azerbaijan relations in the next five years?
Our main goal now is to organize top-level bilateral visits between our countries, to expand our legal base to foster economic relations. We have very good potential for cooperation in all fields and I will put all my efforts into strengthening our relations. I hope in the coming five years we will be able to double or triple our trade turnover.